Year of the Books Chat: September

Mary Ann Evans, who published under the name George Eliot

As a woman, I like to read book by other women, and female authors dominate my bookshelves. Many women in history were forced to publish under a male pen name, for a variety of reasons. Publishers wouldn’t accept submissions from women, or claimed that their books wouldn’t sell as well as those from male authors. Sometime, female authors chose male pen names themselves, understanding their culture and its attitudes towards women in “nontraditional” spheres.

Today, many of these works have been republished under their original names. This month, I’ve been reading the poetry of George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Ann Evens. Evens, an established editor and critic, chose a male pen name to avoid stereotypes about women’s writings as well as to create a distinction between her personal work from her editorial work. You can find Eliot’s works on Project Gutenberg, an online resource of public domain works.

There are only three months left in the year. What books have you read in 2020?

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